Tacoma City Council to consider buying Old City Hall

The Tacoma City Council will consider buying Old City Hall for $4 million to save and restore the building, the city said Thursday.

The council will consider the purchase at its Tuesday meeting.

After restoring the downtown building at 625 Commerce St., the city would make it available for future private development, according to a release from the city.

“We've been working on this solution for almost a year, so I'm glad to see it come forward to the full Council for approval. Gaining control of this beautiful historic icon allows us to properly preserve and market it for use in the near future,” Mayor Marilyn Strickland said in the statement.

Old City Hall is a five-story building that was finished in 1893, and originally housed the offices of the mayor and City Council, municipal court, public library and public utilities. It was renovated for commercial office use in 1974.

The building has been neglected in recent years, the city said.

The city entered into an agreement in 2013 with the owners of the building, The Stratford Co. of Seattle, that required the business to fix issues with the building. The deal allows the city to make repairs, and reclaim costs for that work, if it needs to.

Deadlines earlier this year for Stratford to finish an engineering study of the building’s facade and to secure bricks and mortar around arches above the third story windows weren’t met.

A fence was put up in February to prevent injury to pedestrians from falling bricks, and the city in April was working to get about $41,000 from the company.

Stratford bought the building for $3.8 million in 2005, and since then tried to sue two of its last tenants for breaking their leases. The Pierce County AIDS Foundation and attorney Peggy Fraychineaud Gross both successfully countersued, by arguing that the company had let the building fall into disrepair, effectively evicting them.